Methods for Displaying Related Blog Posts in WordPress
There are a number of great open source plugins for pulling related blog posts. The WordPress core has a set of query functions which make the programming aspect a whole lot easier. But at times you will need different plugins for showing a certain type of related post design, either in the content or sidebar or somewhere else. This will depend on your WordPress theme and how your layout is designed.
I want to introduce just a few plugins which gracefully handle related blog posts. These are all written for WordPress using the most recently updated version. It is possible to install each one of these through the Plugins admin menu and give them a trial run. You can only learn so much from the plugin’s webpage, and often times you will want to see how it behaves on a live website before deciding to keep it.
nrelate Most Popular
This first suggestion is a more offbeat idea which has received a large number of positive reviews from users. nrelate Most Popular is a free open source WordPress plugin used for displaying related posts when viewing a single post page. The design will include text and also a featured post thumbnail when available.
Methods for including the related posts can be written into your content using shortcodes, or even directly into PHP with the nrelate_popular() function. The only problem some users may have is that nrelate does not keep the results local to your own website. They offload the processing to their own servers and then return the results. This can be a win-win if you are happy with the tradeoff. But certainly look for another solution if you want to keep all this data crunching local to your web server.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
There are plenty of mixed opinions with this plugin of choice. YARPP(Yet Another Related Posts Plugin) is also a free download from the WordPress codex. What I like most is their ability to include related posts based on an RSS feed. This seems to be a common feature in other plugins, but their implementation is flawless.
Obviously the typical interface styles of post thumbnails are included within the template by default. The algorithm for pulling related posts will search through titles, post content, taxonomies, and other related metadata. You will be happy to know all the number crunching is done locally right in your own web server. Check out the FAQ page to learn a bit more about their process.
I think YARPP is a great choice when you are just getting started. There is not a lot of requirements to update the template style, and the related posts are easily appended into your current theme. This is a great choice for getting something up on your site to run quickly without a whole bunch of custom edits.
Related Posts Thumbnails
RPT may be my favorite choice for adding quick related posts into your blog. The plugin is free just like all the other choices, yet this one has a very simple codebase which offers a lot of backend customization. Users who are familiar with editing plugin settings will love this Related Posts Thumbnails plugin. The results are displayed right at the bottom of the post as you would expect in any typical magazine.
Each of the featured posts will display using the thumbnail image along with the post title underneath. By default the plugin will display 3 related articles, but obviously you may change this to any number you’d like. There are also input boxes within the plugin settings for changing the color scheme, thumbnail size, and even the publication date range.
If you have a number of posts which are missing thumbnail images do not worry! The Related Posts Thumbnails settings also has a text input for adding a direct URL as the default thumbnail image. This will automatically display for all your entries which are not using the properly sized thumbnail image, or just don’t have one available. All of these options are possible without a single edit to the PHP code. I would personally recommend RPT for any major WordPress project, and especially for magazine-style websites which will be centered around a large database of blog articles.
Each of the plugins from this article are some of my personal favorites. There is not a need for displaying related posts on every website. And honestly there are plenty of custom PHP tutorials for pulling the WP posts yourself. But not every webmaster is interested in developing their own solution. I hope these plugins may provide a great place for getting started in researching for a related posts widget. If you have any similar ideas or questions feel free to share with us in the post discussion area.